Cedar Shoals drops third consecutive Classic City Championship 42-21

In the 55th matchup between Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central, early special teams mistakes put the Jaguars behind early and they never recovered.

The game was delayed from its original date of Aug.  20 after players from both schools quarantined due to COVID-19 exposure. Foreseeing a referee shortage, the game finally took place on a rainy and foggy Thursday night in Billy Henderson Stadium. 

After a strong opening defensive stand by the Jaguars, a 27-yard reception by sophomore Devin Hester from junior Jason Massey saw the Jaguar offense work the ball into the Gladiator red zone. Unable to advance the ball further, the Jaguars set up for a 30-yard field goal. 

The snap went over the placeholder’s head to midfield where Clarke Central junior defensive linemen Dailen Howard scooped the ball up and returned it 40 yards for the Gladiator touchdown.

“After we gave up that special teams touchdown, our team was really deflated and we put our heads down,” senior linemen Kylin Browner said.

The Jaguars were unable to pick up a first down on their next possession, and a botched punt gave the Gladiator offense the ball at the Cedar Shoals 45-yard line. On three consecutive runs,  senior running back Will Richardson drove the ball down the field and punched it in to put the Gladiators up by 14. 

The woes continued for the Jaguar special teams as their punt on the next possession was blocked, giving the Gladiators the ball at the Jaguars 21-yard line. Junior quarterback Lucian Anderson lll capitalized on the very next play with a sneak to put the scoreline at 21-0. 

A few drives later, Cedar Shoals sophomore defensive back Kayden Scott intercepted Anderson’s pass to give the Jaguars the ball in enemy territory. Three plays later, junior quarterback Mandrell Glenn found Hester for the 30-yard score. 

Holding the Receivers at Bay: Junior defensive back Toby Bolton watches as a pass is thrown over the head of a Gladiator receiver. The Jaguar secondary held the Gladiators to 5 total passing yards. “We knew coming into the game that they (Clarke Central) didn’t throw the ball very often but we did a good job covering their receivers,” Ryals said. Photo by Patrick Redmond.

Richardson continued to carry the load for the Gladiator offense, rushing nine times for 50 yards and another score on the next drive to put the team back up by 21. Richardson would go on to rush for 128 yards on the night.

They beat us at the line of scrimmage and we hurt ourselves by not making key tackles in the secondary, Ryals said.

While the Gladiator offense relied on the rush, the Jaguars running game failed to get going as they could not surpass 50 rushing yards. Notably, senior running back Jerdavian Colbert did not suit up as he was dealing with a collarbone injury. 

“We weren’t able to sustain our blocks and they just beat us physically, ” Ryals said. “ Not having Colbert hurt us but I think he will be good to play this week.”

Anderson would add another touchdown rush, and a pick six by the Gladiator defense put the halftime scoreline at 42-7. 

With a running clock in the second half, both teams put in backup players. The Jaguars scored twice late in the 4th quarter, one on a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Anthony Hubbard to junior running back Amarius Collins and another to Massey. Clarke Central captured their 12th victory in the past 13 matchups against Cedar Shoals as the game ended 42-21.

The Gladiators (7-2), who have already captured their region title, will travel to winless Johnson-Gainesville (0-8) this week before they host a first round playoff game. The Jaguars (2-6) will look to capture the 4th seed in their region and a playoff berth this Thursday with a win over Chestatee (3-6) on senior night.

“Chestatee is a hard-nosed team that has been playing inspired football over the past couple of weeks,” Ryals said. “We are going to need to play a lot better if we want to qualify for the playoffs.”

Jacob Weiszer

Senior Jacob Weiszer is the Sports Editor for BluePrints Magazine. Weiszer is interested in pursuing a career in business or pre-law. Outside of school, Weiszer enjoys playing soccer and spending time with his friends. This year he hopes to cover a broad range of stories related to sports and the entire Cedar community. Weiszer also looks forward to working with his fellow editors and staff reporters to develop meaningful stories. The thing Weiszer enjoys the most about being a member of the journalism staff is being able to collaborate with his peers to cover important issues in the community.